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Exhibitions and Events

Anna Deavere Smith to launch 2014-15 Penny Stamps Series

Photo of Anna Deveare Smith

Photo of Anna Deavere Smith. Image credit: Royce Carlton Agency, NY.

ANN ARBOR—Award-winning actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith will bring

her singular brand of performance to the Michigan Theater on Thursday, September 11,

2014. This lecture will launch the 2014-15 Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series,

as well as the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Institute for Research on Women and

Gender (IRWG). Based on her recent one-woman show Let Me Down Easy, which

explored the American healthcare system, this lecture/performance will combine stories

of Smith’s creative journey with insights into the fragility and resilience of the human

body and spirit.

Anna Deavere Smith is best known for crafting one-woman, multi-character plays about

American social issues. She has been awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one

of the largest and most prestigious awards in the arts, the National Humanities Medal,

and the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre

— a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” She is

Professor of Performance Studies at New York University Tisch School of the Arts,

Affiliate Professor at the NYU School of Law, and the founder and director of the Institute

on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. Her film and television credits include Philadelphia, The

American President, The Human Stain, Rent, and ABC’s The Practice, NBC’s The West

Wing, and currently, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie.

Sarah Fenstermaker, IRWG Director, notes, “Anna Deavere Smith is an artist whose

work affirms women’s accomplishments, celebrates the human spirit, and is

unconstrained by conventional notions of creativity. We are delighted to open IRWG’s

anniversary year with her visit.” Penny Stamps Series Director, Chrisstina Hamilton,

concurs, “It is wonderful to open the season in celebration of IRWG, one of our long time

dedicated series partners, and with a performer who is truly a dynamic force of nature.”

The lecture will take place on Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 5:10 p.m. at the

Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, MI. Admission is free and open to

the public. The lecture will be presented by the Stamps School of Art and Design, and

the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, with additional support from the

University of Michigan Office of Research, School of Public Health, Office of the Vice

Provost for Equity, Inclusion, and Academic Affairs, Department of Theatre and Drama,

and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Program in Sexual Rights

and Reproductive Justice.

Founded in 1995, The Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) is an

interdisciplinary unit of the University of Michigan Office of Research. IRWG supports UM

faculty and students in their research on women, gender, and sexuality. Each year,

IRWG also sponsors a variety of speakers and events to foster intellectual exploration

and social change. Visit for more information.

Established with the generous support of alumna Penny W. Stamps through the Stamps

School of Art & Design, the Speaker Series brings respected emerging and established

artists and designers from a broad spectrum of media to conduct public lectures, inspire

collective dialogue and engage with students, faculty, and the larger University and Ann

Arbor communities on a weekly basis. For more information visit


Contact Information:

Heidi Bennett, Special Events Planner

Institute for Research on Women & Gender

University of Michigan

(734) 764-9537;

Chrisstina Hamilton, Director of Visitors’ Programs

Stamps School of Art & Design

University of Michigan

(734) 764-3464;

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